Global Vaccination Against Covid 5 Times More Expensive Than Needed Due To Big Pharma Monopolies

A briefing document issued Thursday indicated that pharmaceutical firms' vaccination monopolies are boosting the cost of inoculating the world's population against Covid-19 by as much as 500 percent, underlining the necessity for a People's Vaccine, according to public health activists.

The report titled Great Vaccine Robbery, produced by the People's Vaccine Alliance, indicates that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are charging governments up to $41 billion more for vaccinations than the cost of manufacturing. Colombia, for example, has been paying twice as much for Moderna vaccinations as the United States, and the country might have been overcharged by as much as $375 million for both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech doses.

The authors of the research looked at how mRNA-type vaccines, such as those offered by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, are created. The vaccinations, which were developed with public funds worth billions of dollars, maybe manufactured for as little as $1.20 each dosage. However, COVAX—the global initiative co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the World Health Organization (WHO); and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)—has been paying an average of nearly 500% more.

Furthermore, according to the paper, Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have sold 90 percent of their vaccines to affluent countries, which are paying up to 24 times more than the cost of manufacturing.

Only US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have expressed support for a World Trade Organization (WTO) waiver on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), a proposal by India and South Africa that would temporarily lift patent protections to allow more countries to produce vaccines. Canada, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom are among the affluent nations that continue to reject the TRIPS waiver.

Critics further point out that, despite Biden's support for the waiver, the US government has not gone any farther than declaring its support publicly. However, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Tuesday that she is still in discussions with other WTO members over the proposed intellectual property rights waiver.

The study prompted increased demands for a People's Vaccine, according to public health experts. "Awful how vaccine monopolies are killing lives. Daily," UNAIDS communications specialist Joel Bassuk tweeted. "A reminder of when millions of people died of HIV in underdeveloped nations because the drugs that may save them were too expensive," Bassuk said of the study.

"As long as the pharmaceutical corporations retain their monopolies on lifesaving technology, they will always prioritize contracts where they can make the most excessive profits, leaving developing countries out in the cold," Maaza Seyoum, African coordinator of the People's Vaccine Alliance, said in a statement.

"With government budgets in turmoil across the world and Covid cases on the rise in many poor nations," Seyoum continued, "it's time to stop supporting corporate fat cats." "It's past time to prioritize people above money."

"Without pharmaceutical monopolies on vaccines restricting supply and driving up prices... the money spent by COVAX to date could have been enough to fully vaccinate every person in low- and middle-income countries with cost-price vaccines, if there was enough supply," according to Oxfam, which hosts the People's Vaccine Alliance website. Instead, COVAX will only vaccinate 23% of the population by the end of 2021.